Old school handheld games are electronic or video games that were popular in the 80s and 90s before the rise of smartphones and tablets. They were designed to be played on portable handheld consoles and often featured in-built screens, buttons, simple graphics, and gameplay. Some of these games can still be found in some specialty stores, and many are still beloved by collectors and retro gamers. In this guide, we will look at a list of old school handheld electronic games and the benefits of playing them. Let’s dive in.
A List of Old School Handheld Games
There are many classic handheld video games that were popular before the year 2000. As mentioned before, some of them are still played today. They include;
- The Legend of Zelda
The Legend of Zelda is a popular action-adventure video game series considered one of the most influential video games of all time. It was invented in 1986 by Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka for the Famicom Disk System in Japan and later for the Nintendo Entertainment System.
The game is set in the fictional land of Hyrule and follows the story of Link, a young boy who must save Princess Zelda from the evil Ganondorf. The gameplay typically involves exploration, puzzle-solving, and combat, with players controlling Link as he navigates various dungeons and battles enemies using swords and bows.
- Handheld Poker Games
Handheld poker games have been around for several decades, as their invention can be traced back to the late 1970s or 1980s. Over the years, they have become more advanced and feature-rich, catering to the preferences of poker enthusiasts who enjoy mobile gaming experiences.
Also known as electronic or portable poker games, these are compact devices that simulate the experience of playing poker. These devices are usually designed to be held in hand and typically feature a small screen, buttons, and built-in software that allows you to play instant withdrawal poker variations such as Texas Hold’em, Omaha, Seven-Card Stud, and more. Additionally, they include features such as a digital deck of cards, virtual opponents, and different game modes. This variation of old school handheld games is battery-powered and can be carried in a pocket, allowing you to play anywhere. Similarly, they provide a safe and controlled environment to practice your skills.
- Super Mario Bros
Super Mario Bros. is yet another popular handheld video game developed by Nintendo. It was first released as a console game and quickly became one of the most successful video games of all time. However, many handheld versions of Mario games have been released since then. Some examples include; Super Mario Land (1989), 2. Super Mario Bros. Deluxe (1999) and Super Mario 64 DS (2004).
In this set of old school handheld games, the player controls Mario, who must traverse the Mushroom Kingdom to rescue Princess Peach from Bowser. The game is a side-scrolling platform game where the player moves to the right to reach the flagpole at the end of each level. Mario can jump on enemies to defeat them, and he can also collect power-ups to give him
different abilities, such as the ability to shoot fireballs or grow larger.
- Handheld Slot Games
Handheld slots are electronic devices that provide a convenient and portable way to enjoy the thrill of slot machines without going to a casino. They are typically small and portable, making them ideal for travel or playing on the go. Similarly, they offer a variety of games to choose from, including classic three-reel slots and modern video slots. These devices typically offer a variety of games, each with its unique theme, symbols, and gameplay mechanics. In addition, some handheld slot games may incorporate additional features such as bonus rounds, progressive jackpots, and sound effects to enhance the gaming experience.
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Tetris is a classic puzzle video game that was created by Alexey Pajitnov. It was first released in June 1984 as a computer game and has since been subsequently released on numerous handheld gaming devices. This category of old school handheld electronic games has become one of the most popular handheld games of all time and has sold over 100 million copies worldwide. This old school handheld electronic game is known for its simple yet addictive gameplay.
Its objective is to arrange falling blocks to create complete horizontal lines across the playing area. Once a line is completed, it disappears, and the player earns points. Tetris becomes more challenging as the speed of the falling tetrominoes increases over time, requiring players to think quickly and act decisively to avoid running out of space.
- Donkey Kong
Donkey Kong is a classic arcade game that was first released by Nintendo in 1981. It has since become one of history’s most iconic and influential games. This handheld video game quickly gained popularity due to its innovative gameplay and charismatic characters. Consequently, the franchise is known for its humor, family-friendly appeal, and challenging gameplay.
The original Donkey Kong game was a platformer in which players controlled a character named Jumpman (who would later become known as Mario) as he attempted to rescue his girlfriend from Donkey Kong by climbing to the top of a series of increasingly challenging levels.
This handheld video game features multiple levels, each consisting of platforms and obstacles that Mario must navigate while avoiding or jumping over barrels thrown by Donkey Kong. It is notable for its innovative gameplay mechanics, colorful graphics, and catchy music.
- Mortal Kombat
Mortal Kombat is a classic fighting video game created by Ed Boon and John Tobias. The series is known for its fast-paced gameplay, digitized graphics, and gruesome finishing moves called fatalities. The first Mortal Kombat game was released by Midway Games in 1992 as an arcade fighting game and became a critical and commercial success. In Mortal Kombat, players choose a character and engage in one-on-one battles against opponents, using a combination of punches, kicks, and special moves. It quickly gained a reputation for its controversial and violent content, and was the subject of much public debate
and scrutiny in the early 1990s.
The handheld versions of the game typically offer a scaled-down version of the full Mortal Kombat experience, with simplified controls and graphics to accommodate the platform’s limitations.
- Sonic The Hedgehog
Sonic the Hedgehog is a video game where players control Sonic as he races through various levels, collecting rings, avoiding obstacles, and battling enemies to defeat the evil Dr. Eggman and save the world. The Sonic games are known for their fast-paced gameplay, colorful graphics, catchy music, and memorable cast of characters, including Tails, Knuckles, Amy, and
This video game franchise originated on home consoles, specifically the Sega Genesis (also known as the Mega Drive). However, numerous Sonic the Hedgehog games have been released over the years on handheld gaming devices, such as the Game Gear, Game Boy Advance, and Nintendo DS.
Pokemon is a popular video game franchise that was created by Satoshi Tajiri and Ken Sugimori in 1996. In the Pokemon games, players take on the role of a Pokemon trainer and embark on a journey to catch, train, and battle with various creatures called Pokemon. The games are set in different regions of a fictional world and often involve exploring new environments, solving puzzles, and battling other trainers to become the Pokemon League Champion.
Overall, the Pokemon franchise has had a strong presence on handheld gaming devices and is often associated with portable gaming. However, Pokemon games like the Nintendo Switch have also been released for home consoles.
Benefits of Playing Old School Handheld Games
Some of the old school handheld games are still accessible to many players. Some of the advantages of playing these handheld games are:
● Nostalgia. Many people who grew up playing old school handheld electronic games enjoy revisiting them for the nostalgia factor. These games bring back childhood or earlier memories, providing a comforting and familiar gaming experience.
● Portability. Handheld video games are designed to be played on the go, making them convenient for travel, commutes, and other situations where traditional gaming consoles may not be practical.
● Variety of Games. There are a wide variety of old school handheld electronic games available, so there is something for everyone. Whether you are looking for a puzzle game, an action game, or a role-playing game, you will find something you like.
● Simpler Gameplay. These games often feature straightforward and easy-to-understand gameplay mechanics. As a result, they can be a refreshing break from the complexity and high demands of modern games, offering a more concise and accessible gaming
● Hand-to-eye Coordination. Handheld games often involve using buttons, touch screens, or styluses to control the game. This can improve hand-to-eye coordination and fine motor skills.
● Affordability. These old school handheld games are typically more affordable than home consoles. This makes them an excellent option for people who are on a budget.
● Retro Charm. Many people appreciate the retro aesthetics and charm of these games. The pixelated graphics, simple sound effects, and limited hardware capabilities can create a unique and nostalgic atmosphere that some find appealing.
● Mental Stimulation. Many handheld games require problem-solving skills, strategic thinking, and quick reflexes. These mental challenges can help improve cognitive abilities such as memory, attention, and spatial reasoning.
● Entertainment and Relaxation. Playing handheld video games can be enjoyable to pass the time and relax. They can provide a brief escape from reality and offer a way to unwind after a long day.
Old school handheld games were popular in the 1980s and 1990s, such as Tetris, Donkey Kong, and Super Mario Bros. However, some of them are still famous and are available to date. Some advantages of handheld video games are that they offer simpler gameplay than modern games, are more affordable, and create a unique and nostalgic atmosphere that people find appealing. Consequently, they can be played on the go and help people reminisce about their childhood memories. Before playing these games, you must familiarize yourself with the controls and understand how the game is meant to be played. Additionally, ensure the cartridges or discs are clean and in working order.